This past January wasn’t the first time that women have gathered to march for their rights, nor was it the only time that their doing so was seen as controversial.
Marches aren’t anything new. One notable march — the Women’s Suffrage Procession of 1913 — bears both similarities and differences that provide context for the recent event. That historic march is the focus of a talk to be given by Amy Canfield and Amanda Van Lanen on Wednesday as part of Lewis-Clark State College’s Women’s History Month. Both are associate professors of history at LCSC and were oral historians and participants in the Women’s March in Spokane.
Here’s some ways the two marches compare:
Though both marches were focused on women’s rights; the women in 1913 were marching specifically for suffrage — the right to vote in political elections. Although some states allowed women to vote at that time, women wanted changes made at a federal level. By contrast, people came out to the recent march for “myriad of reasons,” Canfield said, that were highly individual even as they overlapped. As she collected oral histories from those in attendance, Canfield heard women express a general “unease” about the rights and protection that women would have in the current administration.
Both marches were planned in connection with a presidential inauguration, with the recent one held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. In 1913, the march was planned for the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Women had been asking for the right to vote since the 1840s, Canfield said, and Wilson wanted to push the issue down the line, calling it a “state issue.” In both cases, women sought to send a message about what they wanted as each man headed into his presidency.
Record numbers of participants from all over the nation showed up for each march. In 1913, that number in Washington, D.C., was 8,000 — a far cry from the 470,000 estimated to be in attendance at the 2017 march. The number was significant at the time, however, when travel across the nation was more difficult and took more time. Also, in contrast to the recent march, the 1913 event included only women.
Both events took place when large numbers of the press would be present in Washington, D.C., and the resulting news coverage captured the nation’s attention. Though both events were significant for their time, the march in 1913 had a violent end that added to the intensity of the event. Bystanders watching the march began to attack the participants verbally and then physically. Around 200 people ended up at the hospital. Though emotions ran high during the recent march, it remained a peaceful event.
Though the march of 1913 was significant, it wasn’t until 1920 that all female U.S. citizens were given a right to vote.
“I would argue that this march sped things up,” Canfield said. “No longer could people say that women didn’t want the right to vote.”
The violence, unfortunate though it was, also furthered the cause. Because of women’s perceived roles at that time, Canfield said, society often viewed them as in need of protection. The physical attack against them drew additional sympathizers who began to support their cause.
“This march demonstrated the passion, the frustration and how far women were willing to go,” Canfield said.
Lewis-Clark State College Women’s History Month events
Keynote Address: “Revolutionary Women in Ireland, 1916-1923” by Justin Stover, Idaho State University history professor at noon today in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100
Musical Production: “Ain’t I a Woman!” at 7 p.m. today in the Silverthorne Theater; cost is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and children, free for LCSC students with ID card
Talk: “Authorship and Authority: A Study of Early Modern Women Writers” by Peter Remien, LCSC humanities professor, at noon Tuesday in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100
Film: “Courage in Corsets: Winning the Vote in Washington State,” hosted by League of Women Voters, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at LCSC Center for Arts & History
Talk: “Why We March: A Historic and Contemporary Reflection of Women’s Marches” by Amy Canfield and Amanda Van Lanen, LCSC associate professors of history, at noon Wednesday in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100
Talk: “Frieda Kahlo, La Mujer, Modern Woman” by Ray Esparsen, LCSC humanities professor, at noon next Thursday in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100
Film: “Meek’s Cutoff” hosted by Jennifer Anderson, LCSC humanities instructor, at 6:30 p.m. March 13 in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100
Film: “The Year We Thought About Love: Behind the Scenes of Queer Youth Theater” hosted by Marlowe Daly-Galeano, LCSC humanities professor, and Emily Akin, LCSC graduate, at 7 p.m. March 20 at LCSC Center for Arts & History
Talks: “Separating the World Into Bananas and Non-Bananas: Ontology, Sliding Signifiers and Feminism” and “Feminazis. Bra Burners, and Men Haters: Rebranding Feminism” by Louis Sylvester, LCSC humanities professor, and Kimberly Tolson, Walla Walla Community College English instructor, at noon March 21
Talk: “Viewing Consent in Jane Austin’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Mansfield Park’” by Kelly-Ray Meyer, LCSC alum, at noon March 22 in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100
Talk: “The Critique of the Streak: UConn Women’s Basketball and the Attack on Excellence in Women’s Sports” by Heather Van Mullem, chairwoman, LCSC Education and Kinesiology Division at noon March 23 in Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100